Ukraine invasion: Russia planning WW2 parade in besieged Mariupol
Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of planning to hold a military parade in the captured city of Mariupol on May 9 to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.
Kyiv said an official from Russia's presidential administration had arrived in the strategic southern port city, which has been largely destroyed in Russia's more than two-month invasion of Ukraine, to oversee plans for the Victory Day parade.
"Mariupol will become a centre of 'celebration'," Ukraine's military intelligence said in a statement on social media.
"The central streets of the city are urgently being cleaned of debris, bodies and unexploded ordnance."
Mariupol is one of the most battered cities in Ukraine. A group of Ukrainian forces are still holding out in its Azovstal steel plant.
"A large-scale propaganda campaign is under way. Russians will be shown stories about the 'joy' of locals on meeting the occupiers," it said.
Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko later told Ukrainian television there were ongoing "works" in the city, as if the Russians were preparing for something.
"They are removing signs of the crimes they have committed," he said.
The Ukrainian military on Tuesday said Russian troops had launched an offensive to rout troops inside Azovstal shortly after the United Nations and Red Cross confirmed the evacuation of more than 100 civilians from the site.
The Kremlin denied Russia was storming the plant on Wednesday, but Boichenko said there was "heavy fighting" there and that city officials had "lost contact" with the troops inside with no way of knowing "what's going on, whether they are safe or not".